Art Newz & EventzArts

It’s pARTy, pARTy, pARTy On, DMV!

ARTOMATIC Is Baaaack and Better Than Ever!!!

DC Autumn by Canadian artist Mark Lagué on exhibit as part of the 30th anniversary celebration at the Principle Gallery in Old Town. (Photo Principle Gallery)

Alexandria, VA – Spring and longer days have finally arrived. Petalpalooza’d out already? Looking for some indoorsy diversions? Need a quick cure for spring fever? One word: ARTOMATIC!

After a virtual COVID hiatus and venue relocation back to DC for the first time since 2009, this mecca of magic makers has resumed its moveable visceral feast for the senses in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary pARTy. Traditionally held in various upcycled vacant spaces around the DMV, the ever-expansive pop-up art happening of all art happenings headed downtown to M Street, N.W. ARTOMATIC is an art festival on steroids. More than just a maker’s fest. Think Burning Man for seven weeks but without the bonfire. Or everyman’s Art Basel without the Miami heat.

ARTOMATIC is BaaaAAAaaack! The ultimate pARTy has something for everyone. And what’s a pARTy without music, dancing, and the requisite Disco Ball. Yes, Virginia, there is an art to Disco. (Photo Cheryl VanderMolen Neway)

Part art festival. Part theater. Part stage. Part circus. ARTOMATIC was established by artist George Koch in 1999 as an alternative creative safe space offering local artists an opportunity to be represented in an open, unrestricted venue. Open means no jurying, no judging, no criteria, no call to entry limited to a set amount of submissions predicated upon a theme. And sometimes no walls. It’s all art all the time – by the people, for the people, and free for the people. Admission, that is.

ARTOMATIC is now attracting artists and performers from around the world. Artwork is vastly diverse, selling at all price points. An unfettered dose of Democracy is just what the DMV, and the rest of the world, can use about now. Freedom of expression is the primary precept of creativity. ARTOMATIC 2024 is making gone wild! The experience isn’t limited to viewership. Hands-on visitor creativity is practically de rigeur. Weave, paint, craft, mold, throw, craft – no limits and NO RULZ rules. There’s even a sewing station on the fifth floor for those tempted to textile.

ARTOMATIC is seven floors of art makers and making art for all ages. Add your personal touch to a weaving or massive wall painting. The fifth floor even has a sewing center set up by textile/fiber creator and Artomatic Advisory Board member Cheryl VanderMolen Neway. (Photo Cheryl VanderMolen Neway)

Without a curator, the ARTOMATIC free-for-all leans marvelously toward chaotic expression, as styles and ability may vary from dabbler to dilettante, seasoned working professional to undiscovered Basquiats. If it’s artfully educated curation you seek, the National Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are a short circulator or Metro ride away. But we’re all here to pARTy, to create and to appreciate the art all around us, as well as all around town. Alexandria artists are well-represented at ARTOMATIC 2024. While some are self-taught, many are trained artists and art teachers themselves.

Given there are seven floors of around 300,000 square feet of space in an up-cycled downtown Golden Triangle office building, and over one-thousand multiple makers occupying art, along with film, dance, live music, performance, staged readings, poetry, and storytelling, you’ll need to plan for revisiting ARTOMATIC over and over again. Hours are Wednesday and Thursday 5-9pm, Friday and Saturday noon to midnight, and Sunday noon to 9pm through April 28. Check for schedules of events and more information.

If you are looking for something artsy to do this side of the moat in Alexandria, there’s no shortage of pARTay! On April 5 at Del Ray Artisans on Mount Vernon Avenue from 7-9 pm there’s an opening reception for the new exhibit, Same But Different. Curated by Linar Artuk-Boegel and Barbara Cooper, this exhibit celebrates diversity in the natural and man-made world. In conjunction with First Thursdays in Del Ray, the gallery will be open April 4 until 9pm.

This fabulously elegant upcycled velvet coat, fit for a queen, modeled and designed by Cheryl VanderMolen Newway of Perfect Mistakes, can be yours along with other costumes and wall art, in addition to her paintings, hand-painted silk and tie-dye wearables on exhibit in ARTOMATIC booths 5001, 514, and 829. Cheryl exhibits at Del Ray Artisans and has a studio at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. (Photo Joyous Photography)

Come for a sneak preview and first dibs on the art for sale while engaging in a family-friendly activity inspired by the event theme How Does Your Garden Grow? Artists of all ages and abilities will decorate upcycled seed starter containers and go home with a transplant garden pot, potting soil, and diverse perennial and annual seeds to get that summer garden kickstarted.

Digital photography artist Gordon Thomas Frank, a regular exhibiting artist at Del Ray Artisans, welcomes visitors to his ARTOMATIC Booth #6126 on view at 2100 M St., N.W., D.C. now through April 28, 2024. (Photo Gordon Frank)

Other activities at Del Ray Artisans in April include a Mix and Match Upcycled Earrings Workshop, a Meditative Art Mandalas Workshop, a Same But Different themed Gel Printing Workshop, Del Ray Urban Sketchers at St. Elmo’s Pub, Life Drawing Sessions,
Partners in Art Evenings, Playing with Resin Workshop, and Nature Journaling Club.
Check the DRA website for registration and further information. Same But Different is on exhibit through April 27.

Meantime, heading from Del Ray to Old Town, be sure to stop by Printmaker’s, Inc. in Studio 14 of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Landscapes, Townscapes, and Peoplescapes, a solo show of relief prints by John Gosling, is on view through April 29, 2024. His lococentric linocuts and woodcuts are inspired by the juxtaposition of the light-and-dark tonal contrast technique called chiaroscuro, famously used by such art universe giants as Caravaggio and Leonardo Da Vinci, Goya, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. Stop by to meet John and his fellow printmakers at the working studio on the first floor.

Will It Go Round in Circles?, 13” x 13” framed stained glass and mirror mixed media by Eileen M. O’Brien on exhibit at ARTOMATIC 2024. (Photo Kelly MacConomy)

Across the street and up two blocks from the Torpedo Factory, the Principle Gallery is celebrating 30 years in the historic Gilpin House at 208 King Street. The anniversary exhibit features a group show representing many of the finest artists pioneering modern realism. Popular Principle artists from around the world are exhibiting new work on view until April 22. From Mark Lagué’s DC Autumn Capitol capture to Larry Preston’s Donuts and Coffee still life, there is something for all tastes.

On Sunday, April 7th, further up King Street and around the corner in the new Nepenthe Old Town Wine Gallery at 108 N. Asaph Street, Christine Mason Miller will be discussing her mixed-media artwork from 12-3pm. Her work will be on exhibit at the Fort Hunt Road main Nepenthe Gallery space with the very first April ART + WINE + CHEESE Thursday evening, April 4, from 6 – 7:30pm. Subsequent monthly AWC Thursday Art soirées follow with the oil paintings of JoEllen Murphy on April 11 and Gary Fisher’s abstract landscape paintings on April 18. Nepenthe will also host an ART + FLOWERS event on April 25, spotlighting the Waynewood Garden Club pairing of their floral arrangements as a complement to the curated gallery artwork on view.

My I’m With Cancelled T Shirt, Mixed Media, by Hannah Hanski, part of the new Americulture exhibit at Galactic Panther. (Photo Galactic Panther)

Be sure to head back to Upper King Street at 1303 this month to catch the latest group show on exhibit at the eclectic and über progressive Galactic Panther Gallery. Americulture opened last month, throwing a pARTy heARTy opening reception with, appropriately, live Blues, Gospel, and Funk music performed by Saturday Night Specials. Americulture focuses upon depictions of the contemporary cultural mindset featuring 14 artists “riffing” upon a zeitgeist born in the USA. Influences are discerned from current Americana: TV, film, comics, cartoons, musical movements, and dance crazes. The exhibition comprises a wide variety of thematic creativity expressed in all media – mixed and otherwise, including fiber, sculpture, drawing, prints, and paintings.
Come get your pop and pulp fiction fix now through May, 2024.

ICYMI: Galactic Panther Gallery: A Hub of Creativity and Culture in Old Town Alexandria Brewing a New Culture of Tea, Art and Music

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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